Quetzaltenango, also known as "Xela" is truly a beautiful city. Located high up in the Sierra Madres, at an elevation of 2,200 meters, Quetzaltenango is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, laced with narrow, cobblestone streets built for walking and filled with the colorful signs of Mayan culture.
Xela is a university town as well, with one large state university (San Carlos de Guatemala), and six private universities. Because of the large student population, both Guatemalan and foreigners studying Spanish, Xela is dotted with coffee shops and there is also an active night life with clubs, billiards and bars.. There are also modern banks, grocery stores, hotels, internet cafes, bakeries, movie theaters and restaurants.
Throughout Quetzaltenango there are old classical buildings and monuments. The contrast between the old and the new is especially visible in the center of the city around "Parque Central" and is what gives the city its charm. All of it is usually within easy walking distance, although if you like, micro buses and taxis offer a very convenient and affordable alternative for getting around.